Penderecki has died

The esteemed Polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki died this morning after a long illness.

He was 86.

Krzysztof Eugeniusz Penderecki forced Polish music out of Stalinist oppression in 1961 with his powerfully atonal work for massed strings, Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima.

He became the pioneer of Polish modernism, the fulcrum of Warsaw’s Autumn Festival and the figurehead of a different kind of music that would lead Poland out of its long darkness. Alongside Hiroshima at the 1961 Autumn Festival, the world also heard the world premiere of Lutoslawski’s Venetian Games and athe playful Three Diagrams by Gorecki. Poland had resumed its rightful place as a musical powerhouse.

Rejecting the ‘destructiveness’ of western avant-gardism, he steered how own course of individual expressionism, impelled by a search for a sound that was both engaging and contemporary.

In person, he was courteous, collegial, professional, quizzical: his own man.

He was twice married and lived for much of his life on the outskirts of Krakow.

UPDATE: The composer who refused to be categorised.

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  • ūüôĀ I was fortunate to hear three concerts of his music, with him conducting, in Santander in 1988. Rest in peace.

  • A giant has passed. He was one of the few post-war composers whose music possessed the elusive gift originally attributed to Mahler’s – “Gesellschaftbildende Kraft” or  ļcommunity‚Äźmolding power”. Where comes another?

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